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Carbon farming

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  • Carbon farming is an approach that combines regenerative agricultural practices with the goal of restoring ecosystem health, improving agricultural productivity, and mitigating climate change by enhancing carbon storage in agricultural landscapes and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Techniques within carbon farming include the following:

  • Rotational Grazing: Rotating livestock through different pastures allows for natural fertilization of the land and prevents overgrazing, reducing methane emissions from livestock.
  • Agroforestry: Integrating trees and shrubs with crops (silvopasture and alley cropping) sequesters carbon in vegetation while providing additional income streams for farmers.
  • Conservation Agriculture: Techniques such as zero tillage, crop rotation, cover cropping, and crop residue management minimize soil disturbance, enhance organic content, and reduce the release of greenhouse gases from soil.
  • Integrated Nutrient Management: Using organic fertilizers and compost instead of synthetic fertilizers reduces emissions and promotes soil fertility.
  • Agro-ecology: Crop diversification and intercropping improve ecosystem resilience and reduce the need for chemical inputs, thereby lowering emissions.
  • Livestock Management: Practices like rotational grazing, optimizing feed quality, and managing animal waste can reduce methane emissions from livestock and increase carbon storage in pasture lands.

Challenges in implementing carbon farming techniques, especially in developing countries like India, include:

  • Limited Water Availability: In hot and dry areas where water is scarce, practices like cover cropping may not be viable due to increased water demand.
  • Financial Constraints: Small-scale farmers may lack the resources to invest in sustainable land management practices, requiring financial assistance for adoption.
  • Geographical Variability: Effectiveness of carbon farming varies depending on factors like soil type, crop selection, and water availability, posing challenges for widespread adoption.
  • Policy Support: Inadequate policy frameworks and lack of awareness hinder the widespread adoption of carbon farming practices.
  • Technological Barriers: Limited access to technology and information about carbon farming techniques can impede adoption, particularly in rural areas.

Some global initiatives promoting carbon farming include:

  • Carbon Trading: Initiatives like the Chicago Climate Exchange and the Carbon Farming Initiative in Australia incentivize carbon mitigation activities in agriculture through carbon trading.
  • 4 per 1000 Initiative: Launched during the COP21 climate talks, this initiative emphasizes the role of soil carbon sequestration in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Agricultural Carbon Projects: Projects like Kenya’s Agricultural Carbon Project, supported by the World Bank, aim to address climate mitigation, adaptation, and food security challenges in developing countries.


  • In India, opportunities for carbon farming exist in promoting climate-resilient and emission-reducing agricultural practices, particularly in regions with extensive agricultural land. Grassroots initiatives and agrarian research demonstrate the viability of organic farming to sequester carbon, while carbon credit systems can incentivize farmers by providing additional income.
  • However, scaling up carbon farming requires addressing challenges such as limited awareness, inadequate policy support, and technological barriers.

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